Articles on Invention

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The Large Hadron Collider is playing a key role in enabling the collection of big data. Supplied

The big data challenge and how Africa can benefit

Big data is about processing large amounts of data. It is often associated with multiplicities of data. But the ability to generate data outpaces the ability to store it.
Some of the earliest applications of photography came in the fields of archaeology and botany. Pictured is a photograph from botanist Anna Atkins’ Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions (1843).

How photography evolved from science to art

Because a photograph came from a machine – not a human hand – many were not entirely sure if it could be called art.
If you’re in favor of copyright extensions – and aren’t a corporation holding the rights or a descendent of the original author – you probably need some sense knocked into you. Flickr

Why Batman and Rhapsody in Blue should be in the public domain, but aren’t

In 1998, if Congress hadn’t extended copyrights by 20 years, George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind would all be in the public domain…
The many colours of visible light just part of what James Clerk Maxwell’s theory was to explain. Flickr/laura peta

Let there be light! Celebrating the theory of electromagnetism

It’s hard to imagine life without mobile phones, radio and television. Yet the discovery of the electromagnetic waves that underpin such technologies grew out of an abstract theory that’s 150 years old…
It’s what comes after the great scientific discoveries that Russia has traditionally missed out on. Bin im Garten

Russia’s great at invention, but stinks at innovation

Russia’s economy is highly dependent on the price of oil, as are a few other countries, such as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. Russia differs from those other countries, however, in having a very strong scientific…
Almost anything can be labelled ‘innovation’ - invention is a little harder. Shutterstock

What if we had a ‘National Invention System’?

Australia’s Senate Economics Committee is currently undergoing a review of the National Innovation System in light of the “challenges to Australian industries and jobs posed by increasing global competition…
Engelbart, inventor of the computer mouse, died on Tuesday, aged 88. Javier Martínez Ortiz

Doug Engelbart’s passing leaves a legacy to treasure

This week saw the passing of Doug Engelbart, one of the giants in the history of computing. Today he is mostly known for his invention of the computer mouse in 1963. Many of his other big ideas lay waiting…
What use are Vulcan salutes when other life-forms see you as bacteria? Gage Skidmore

Meeting aliens will be nothing like Star Trek – fact

The latest Star Trek movie, opening tomorrow, raises an eternal question: why are the Klingons (or Cylons or Daleks) always at roughly our technological level? For any sense of drama, interplanetary protagonists…
Statuettes and a reproduction of the automatic theatre of Hero of Alexandria. Alan Dorin.

We are the creators of artificial life – both now and through the ages

As humans, we create life. And we’re all familiar with the idea of artificial intelligence. But what about artificial life? What is it, and why should we care? Artificial Life is a recently labelled but…

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